Immigration rate in UK sees biggest fall in 20 years

  • Minister hails success of government’s ‘tough’ new policies
  • 213,000 students arrived this year compared to 232,000 last year 
  • Emigration increases from 336,000 to 353,000 as more Britons work abroad

Immigration into Britain saw the biggest fall in 20 years last year, official figures showed today. There were 536,000 people who came from abroad to live in this country, down by 42,000 in a year. The drop was the biggest recorded since immigration went down by 61,000 during the recession of 1991 and the numbers coming in were the lowest since 2004, the year that marked the beginning of the arrival of hundreds of thousands of Polish and Eastern European workers. Ministers hailed the figures as a major step towards achieving the Government’s aim of reducing immigration to the levels of the 1990s.

The key net migration figure – the number of people added to the population after both immigration and emigration have been counted – dropped by nearly a quarter from 242,000 to 183,000 in the latest count, which covers the 12 months up to the end of March. The main reason for the fall was a dramatic reduction in numbers of migrants arriving on student visas. Students coming in to join courses at further education colleges went down by 67 per cent, those going to English language schools by 76 per cent. However students going into the high end of the education system, the universities, went up by one per cent. David Cameron has promised to reduce net immigration to below 100,000 and yesterday’s figures mean he is close to half way towards achieving the goal. The drop is a relief to Home Secretary Theresa May who has needed evidence to demonstrate to Tory voters that she is meeting success in reducing immigration.

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